Murphy Music Industries made a few different styles of guitar but it was the solid body ‘Squire’ series that was by far the most prolific design. While no exact figures survive, of the 1200 or so MURPH guitars made, the great majority were Squires in one of the following forms ……
Squire I -T ( single pickup, tremelo, thin offset body ) …. In red, white or blue **
Squire II -T ( two pickups, tremelo, thin offset body ) …. In candy apple red, white or blue ** ( & sunburst )
Squire Bass (two pickups, thin offset body ) …. In candy apple red, white or blue ** ( & sunburst )
Squire I2 string ( two pickups, thin offset body, adjustable bridge )
…. In candy apple red, white or blue ** ( & sunburst )
** Blue is also called ‘aqua’ or ‘turquoise’ in sales literature so the EXACT shade is uncertain – although surviving examples today tend to look more greenish due to colour shift in the old nitro-cellulose lacquer. ( even though they never actually made a Sea-foam Green guitar! )
Sherwin Williams ( the same company that supplied Fender ) was the paint that was used on all Murph Guitars. “10 coats of hand-rubbed lacquer” is how they were described, giving a deep rich colour that only nitro-cellulose paint can provide. However, nearly 40 years on, many Murphs will exhibit quite severe checking and surface cracks if the coating is still the original one, such is the effect of varying temperature & humidity on old lacquer paints.
( All Squire model guitars were stated as being available left handed -for $50 more – AND in narrow or wide neck versions AND in standard or ¾ scale lengths but very few of these were actually made )
Build details of the MURPH Squire
Murph guitars were billed as being “professional quality” and the choice of materials & components in the build reflects this. Selecting top quality local and imported woods, German hardware, dual truss rods, Kluson tuners & top quality electronic components, the Murphy Music Industries product assured the customer of a robust, well made instrument and let the opposition know that the MURPH guitar was a force to be reckoned with …………if only the company had lasted longer!
• All Murphs are noted for having a super thin neck design made from Eastern hard rock maple. Early ones were 3 piece construction although later necks were made from one piece – this was less economical but much stronger.
• The early models had a large rounded off heel but developed into a smaller squared off heel on later production models to enable easier access to top frets.
• Dual single acting truss rods were fitted to all but the very earliest Squire 1 models. These were accessible from under the MURPH nameplate on the headstock .
• The neck was fitted with a bone nut with zero fret ( later it was plastic )
• The fretboard was an imported rosewood slab board finished in clear lacquer.
• 21 medium size nickel frets were used with pearloid dot markers and ‘clay’ side markers.
• 24 ¾” was the scale length for guitars & 12 strings, with 30 ½” for basses.
• Early Squires had a rectangular neck cover plate under which the 3 attachment screws were placed while from late 1965, a 3 screw chrome plate neck attachment plate was used. Serial numbers were stamped into these chrome plates AT THE TIME OF ASSEMBLY so with Murphs ( unlike some other brands ) the number ACTUALLY MEANS YOU CAN DATE THE GUITAR!
The code goes like this….
• For 6 strings, if the first number is 5, then it is of 1965 production, if it is a 6, then it is from 1966
• The next numbers are the SEQUENTIAL number in production ( regardless of type )
For example, 5206 would be 1965 production, the 206th overall made. 61148 would be 1966 production and the 1148th Murph made overall.
• For 12 strings the year is prefixed by a ‘12’
• For basses, the year is prefixes by a ‘4’
Nameplates ( Truss rod Covers )
Early versions had ‘MURPH’ in gold on black or white plastic while the later production ones had ‘MURPH made in USA’ in black on white plastic.
The logo was silk screened onto the single layer, plastic truss rod cover.
The shape also changed with the later ones usually being more “pointy” than the early ones but this was a hand made ( no tooling ) part and none seem to be exactly the same as each other.
The above photo shows ( from top to bottom ) ……
– the earliest cover with the ‘gold’ logo which was difficult to read,
– a left hand version of the final cover ( with the ‘made in USA’ addition )
– the replacement for the ‘gold on white’ ( & the most common cover )
– the gold on black version which WAS readable! ( this is a semi-finished example )
tuners ( Machineheads )
Kluson Deluxe strip tuners with black plastic keys ( double & single row were used on Squire I & II )
Double row Kluson Deluxe individual tuners with chrome keys were used on the 12 strings. Those on the back were slotted style while the six that came through the sides were the drilled style to permit stringing.
Elephant ear type open gear tuners were used on the bass Squires
Bridges & tailpieces
The bridges were imported from Gotz in Germany and were in 3 versions. The ones used on the 6 strings & basses shown at right. These were semi adjustable in height and position due to being left to “float” on the pickguard.
Pickguards, Pickups & Bodies
A white or black plastic single layer, unbevelled pickguard was used on early guitars while the later ones were bevelled and finally made from 3 piece WBW with bevelled edges.
13 medium Phillips head chrome screws held the pickguard onto the body. Later a 14th screw was added near the jack socket for strengthening.
The pickups were a single coil low impedance ( 5k ) design, wound onto black plastic bobbins with aluminium top & base plates. These plates served as an anchor point for the screw polepieces as well as the height adjustment screws. Locally sourced injection molded black ( & white ) plastic covers were used.
All Squires were made out of Poplar in 2 or 3 piece construction. This explains their light weight and ‘bright’ tone. ( but being a light wood the bodies are easily dented )
A total of 10 coats of nitrocellulose paint supplied by Sherwin Williams were applied onto Squires.
Hardware & Electronics
The Murph used unique knurled head / drive in, one-piece strap buttons that were locally machined by the same machine shop that made the tailpieces. These look like a thread but were hammered directly into the body base and top horn. Designed to be used with thin straps, these buttons were a little small to stop a worn strap from disengaging from the instrument.
Electronics consisted of 500k Canadian made Mallory pots for tone & volume with a Erie ceramic .05F capacitor & a Switchcraft jack.
A Carling SPST slider switch was used that brought in the bridge pickup when required. ( the neck pickup was always on )
The volume & tone control knobs were screw locked & made by Daka-ware of Chicago.
There was no shielding in the body cavities. This was a simple guitar that used quality parts.